A Climate of Doubt

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just a few years ago, climate change was widely considered an "inconvenient truth" — something that would likely be expensive and difficult to fix, but an issue that nearly all politicians felt compelled to reckon with. In the 2008 election, Republicans and Democrats alike talked about global warming as one of the most pressing problems our nation faced. But in 2012, climate change has all but evaporated as a political issue. The new Frontline documentary, Climate of Doubt, investigates the organizations that challenged the science, and all but took climate change off the table of political discourse.

Though 98 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real, and mostly human-caused, groups like the Heartland Institute and the Americans for Prosperity have not only called these claims into doubt, but continually framed politicians and scientists who believe in climate change as alarmists or conspirators who manipulate data. They say the science "isn't settled," and that the consensus on global warming is not a scientific consensus, but a political one. 

By challenging the consensus, these groups have made climate change seem like one of many theories. Politicians like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrinch, who just a few years ago reached across the aisle to join Democrats in saying that climate change was a serious issue that needed attention, have now taken to saying that the science on climate change is inconclusive. Even President Obama has been quiet on the issue. The skeptics are more than happy to take credit for this change — they see it as American freedom and democracy triumphing over a liberal conspiracy.

Coral Davenport, energy and environment correspondent for the National Journal, and Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author, discuss the campaign that has cast a shadow of doubt across what was considered the truth just five years ago, and the potentially devastating consequences if inaction persists.


Coral Davenport and Bill McKibben

Produced by:

Maggie Penman and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [3]

Harriet Rauenzahn from Reading PA

Hello. My husband and I just viewed Frontline's Climate of Doubt, a thoroughly wishy-washy, misleading and dishonest presentation of this urgent topic. Certainly not we have come to expect from PBS. Not that this will influence you, but unless a better, more truthful program is broadcast by you on climate change, --and promptly-- you have gotten your last contribution from our household. Entirely too much reliance on interviewing climate deniers. You certainly did not come round to stressing the truth and the dangers of climate change. I will alert each of the environmental organizations to which I belong as well as my senator's office. This cannot stand as PBS's presentation of the climate issue. Very disappointed, Harriet Rauenzahn, Reading PA

Oct. 23 2012 11:18 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

We will go the same way dinosaurs went. The climate changed and they became extinct...Somehow the dinosaurs knew not to mess with the climate and survived longer than we did...Planet earth will outlive us all.

Oct. 22 2012 01:21 PM
Al Bore from Toronto

Get up to date:
*In all of the debates so far, Obama hasn’t planned to mention climate change once.
*Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses.
*Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations.
*Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
*Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
Want to lose an election for sure? Then just keep threatening the voter’s kids with CO2 deaths.
You selfish fear mongering climate cowards of climate blame change wouldn't be still shooting your mouths off if there were real legal consequences for giving CO2 death threats to our kids knowing full well any "crisis" was an exaggeration. History is watching you neocon-like panic spewing end of the world freaks.

Oct. 22 2012 08:50 AM

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